Archive for the ‘Mezza Dishes & Appetizers’ category

Boeuf Bourguignon a la Cecile

June 12th, 2011 Leave a reply »
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Boeuf bourguignon has always been my favorite dish as a child – it’s tasty, the meat is tender and it comes with pasta! Until now, I had never ventured to make it myself since it involves hours of preparation – but after making a couple of recipes, I’m starting to realize that all good recipes take time :) With some practice, you’ll reduce your time cooking it, especially if you have a pressure cooker to help you out. My family recipe for boeuf bourguignon is solid and very easy to follow.

Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time: 45min (with pressure cooker) or 2+ hours (without pressure cooker)

Servings: 4-6

boeuf bourguignon

Ingredients: 5 ounces of bacon (optional), 1.5 lbs of stewing beef, 2 carrots, 1 medium onion, 12 pearl onions, 8 ounces of mushrooms, 2 tablespoons of flour, 750ml of red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon), 1 cube of beef stock, 2 garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley, 3 dried bay leaves, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 ounces of unsalted butter, salt & black pepper

Preparation Phase:

1. Peel 12 pearl onions, cut 5 ounces of bacon into small pieces (optional), slice 8 ounces of mushrooms
2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 ounce of unsalted butter over high heat. Toss bacon pieces, pearl onions and mushrooms. Stir & fry for 5 min until brown. Then place it aside and let it cool down
3. Cut 1.5 lbs of stewing beef into 2-inch cubes. Sprinkle salt & pepper on all sides of the meat
4. Peel 2 carrots & 1 medium onion and cut all into small pieces. Peel and crush 2 cloves of garlic
5. Wash & chop a few sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley. Crush 3 dried bay leaves
6. In a large pot, bring 750ml of red wine to boil and ignite the wine using a match (which in French is called “flambé”)

Using a Pressure Cooker: time = 45min

7. In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 ounce of unsalted butter over high heat. Then place the pieces of beef. While stirring, let the beef cook on all sides for about 5-6min
8. Add the pieces of carrot, onion and garlic. Let cook for 3-4min. Then add 2 tablespoons of flour
9. Poor the red wine over the mixture and add the mushrooms/bacon/pearl onions previously prepared, 1 cube of beef stock, as well as the cut thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Anything left? Everything should be in the pressure cooker
10. Close the pressure cooker tightly. When the steam starts coming out, let simmer for 35min over low heat. Once cooked, remove from the heat and carefully remove the cover.
11. Serve warm with pasta (tagliatelle or fettuccine)

Using a Large Casserole (not Pressure Cooker): time = 2+ hours

7. In a large casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 ounce of unsalted butter over high heat. Then place the pieces of stewing beef. While stirring, let the beef cook on all sides for about 5min.
8. Add the pieces of carrot, onion and garlic. Let cook for 2min. Then add 2 tablespoons of flour
9. Poor the red wine over the mixture and add the mushrooms/bacon/pearl onions previously prepared, 1 cube of beef stock, as well as the cut thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Anything left? Everything should be in the casserole
10. Cover the casserole tightly. Once the wine starts to boil again, let simmer for 2 hours over low heat. Once the beef is tender, remove from the heat.
11. Serve warm with pasta (tagliatelle or fettuccine)

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

December 30th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of my favorite dessert recipes. They are so simple to make and very yummy. I have mastered the making of these cookies that it now takes me less than 30min – 12min to make the dough and 12min to bake. These cookies are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Estimated time: 30min
Servings: 8 cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: ½ cup of unsalted butter, 1 egg, ½ cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon of baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 cup of flour, ½ to 1 cup of white or dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven at 350F
  2. Cream ½ cup of unsalted butter with ½ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of white sugar until soft
  3. Add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix well
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt, mix well
  5. Add gradually 1 cup of flour while mixing
  6. Add between ½ a cup to 1 cup of chocolate chips, mix well. The batter should be thick
  7. Drop 2 tablespoons of batter onto a baking sheet – should have 8-10 cookies
  8. Bake for 12-15minutes until the edges become brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies continue to cook while they cool down

Kibbeh – Made Easy

November 28th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Most non-Middle Easterners understand kibbeh as simply being an American-football-shaped meatball, similar to a falafel, but made of beef or lamb. Well, it’s a little bit more than just that. There are multiple ways of making kibbeh – either in a football-like shape (kibbeh ‘rass) or in a flat oven platter (kibbeh bil sanieh). Kibbeh can also be eaten raw (kibbeh nayye), but I’ll admit I’ve never tried making a dish of raw meat. Each type is not hard to make, but very difficult to master… and it requires time & patience, which is why this recipe accounts for a large quantity so that you can store leftovers in the freezer and enjoy again at a later time.

First, we must learn how to make the stuffing & outer dough and then we will learn how to create the various shapes.

Quantities:
20-25 kibbeh ‘rass (aka. kibbeh meatballs) or
2 oven pans size 12.5″x8″ for
kibbeh bil sanieh (aka. flat kibbeh)
Servings: 10-15

Timing:
Cooking phase: 20min

Resting phase: 2hrs or more


Kibbeh



PART A – PREPARATION PHASE

STUFFING

This inner stuffing is what goes inside or between layers of outer dough. Best is to use fresh ground meat (rather than frozen) as it will not stick as much. The goal is to breakdown the meat into very small pieces, which is difficult when the meat is sticky.

Ingredients (1 of 3): 1 lbs of ground beef or lamb, salt, 1 onion, 1 tbsp of Lebanese 7 spices, 1 tbsp of cinnamon, ¼ cup of pine nuts, 1 tbsp of vegetable oil

1. Cut 1 onion into very small pieces
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot. Add the pieces of onion and let them cook until brown
3. Add 1 lbs of ground beef or lamb and crush into very small pieces
3. When meat is cooked, add ¼ cup of pine nuts, 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of 7 spices and 1 tbsp of cinnamon
4. When the pine nuts turn brown, turn the heat off and let the meat cool down
5. Once chilled, place the meat in the refrigerator for at least 2hrs

Kibbeh stuffing

OUTER DOUGH

Ingredients (2 of 3): 1 lbs of ground beef or lamb, 2 cups of bulghur (No. 0), ½ cup of durum, ½ onion, 2 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of Lebanese 7 spices

1. Grate the onion into very fine pieces
2. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients: ground beef or lamb, bulghur, durum, onion, salt and 7 spices. You can also add a little bit of chili pepper
3. In a food processor, place 2 hand full of mixture and let is process for about 10min until the dough becomes a paste and everything sticks together
4. Repeat until all of the mixture has become a paste
5. Let the dough rest for at least 2 hrs



PART B – COOKING PHASE

Before you decide which shape to make and if this is your first time, I would go with the kibbeh bil sanieh, which is easier to make than kibbeh ‘rass. Both shapes require the same additional ingredients

Ingredients (3 of 3): 5 teaspoon of butter, 2 tbsp of wheat starch, salt, 2 cups of cold water, 3 ice cubes


MAKING KIBBEH ‘RASS
(aka. kibbeh meatball)

1. In a small bowl, combine the 2 tbsp of wheat starch, salt & 2 cups of cold water. Mix well until the wheat starch has melted in the water. Then add 3 ice cubes to keep the water cold
2. Grease a large oven pan with 1 teaspoon of butter. Set the pan in the freezer for 5min
3. Preheat the oven at 450F
4. Divide the outer dough into 20-25 meatballs
5. Take one meatball and make it into a well compact ball. Then wet your hands in the wheat starch & cold water mix and dig a whole in the meatball with 2 fingers while turning in the palm of your hands. Press the walls of the outer dough to enlarge the whole, but make sure not to pierce through the walls. Wet your hands again to even out the outer dough
6. Add stuffing in the whole of the outer dough and close the outer dough to make a football-like shape
7. Congrats! Now you can place your newly made kibbeh on the oven pan and repeat with the next meatball
8. Once you have finished making all of your kibbeh, place a very small amount of butter on each kibbeh and place the pan in the oven for 20min
Serve warm with plain yogurt or Yogurt Cucumber Dip

Kibbeh 'rass


MAKING KIBBEH BIL SANIEH (aka. flat kibbeh)

1. In a small bowl, combine the 2 tbsp of wheat starch, salt & 2 cups of cold water. Mix well until the wheat starch has melted in the water. Then add 3 ice cubes to keep the water cold
2. Grease a large oven pan with 1 teaspoon of butter. Set the pan in the freezer for 5min
3. Preheat the oven at 450F
4. Divide the outer dough into 4 even pieces. Spread 1 of the pieces in the pan in an even layer. Wet your hands in the wheat starch & cold water mix and smooth the surface of the outer dough
5. Spread half of the stuffing evenly over the dough in a loose manner. Do not apply pressure on the stuffing or outer dough below it
6. Spread a 2nd layer of outer dough on the stuffing. Again, wet your hands in the wheat starch & cold water mix and smooth the surface of the outer dough
7. Use a knife to cut the kibbeh (all 3 layers) in 4 rectangles, and then cut the upper layer into small diamond shapes (picture below)
8. Add a little bit of butter on top of the kibbeh
9. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20min
10. With the rest of the stuffing & outer layer, store it in the freezer and make a new kibbeh dish quickly and easily at a later date.
Serve warm with plain yogurt or Yogurt Cucumber Dip

Raw:
Raw kibbeh bil sanieh

Cooked:
Cooked kibbeh bil sanieh

Fatteh – Back to Basics

October 17th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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And so we’re back … with one of my all-time favorite mezza dishes. Have you ever had fatteh? Fatteh (also spelled fatte) is famous for its distinctive soft-crunchy cold-warm taste. The cold yogurt and warm cooked beans give it a creamy texture, contrasted with crunchy bread and nuts makes it a great side dish for any meal.

Estimated time: 20-30min
Servings: 4

Fatteh

Ingredients: 2 cans of garbanzo beans (about 900g), 2.5 cups of yogurt, 3 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon,  ½ lemon, ½ cup of water, 2 loaves of arabic/pita breads, pinch of salt, almonds & pine nuts for decoration

  1. Place 2 cans of prepared garbanzo beans in a pan. Add water to cover the beans. Boil for 10-15min until soft and drain the water
  2. In a large bowl mix the cooked beans with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  3. Toasting the bread: split 2 loaves of arabic/pita bread into two circular halves by separating the top and bottom of the “pocket”, place halves in the oven at 400F. After 15min, the bread should be brown and crispy
  4. Crush 2 garlic cloves and press ½ a lemon
  5. In a medium-sized bowl, whip 2.5 cups of yogurt with the crushed garlic, a pinch of salt, the lemon juice, and ½ cup of water
  6. In a serving bowl, place the warm beans at the bottom, then the toasted bread, then the cold yogurt mix, and finally sprinkle on top some almonds & pine nuts

Oeufs Mimosa – It’s Summertime!

June 26th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Oeufs mimosa (aka. eggs mimosa, deviled eggs) is a wonderful summer treat and a great appetizer to bring to parties. Not only does it look festive, it also tastes great.

Estimated time: 20-30min
Servings: 8

Oeufs Mimosa

Ingredients: 8 eggs, 6 tbsp of crème fraiche or sour cream, 3 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 3 tbsp of fresh chive (~20 leaves), salt & pepper

  1. Place 8 raw eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water (1 inch above eggs) and bring to boil
  2. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10-15min
  3. Drain the eggs and let them cool to room-temperature
  4. Remove the shell from the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half
  5. Carefully remove the yolks and place them in a mixing bowl
  6. Crush the yolks. Then add 6 tbsp of crème fraiche or sour cream and 3 tbsp of Dijon mustard. Mix well
  7. Add 3 tbsp of chopped fresh chive (~ 20 leaves) to the mixing bowl and sprinkle a little bit of salt & pepper. Mix well
  8. Place the halved egg whites on a platter and spoon the mixture into the whites. Refrigerate and serve cold

Have you ever had mimosa eggs?

Lebanese Cheese – Shanklish

January 31st, 2010 Leave a reply »
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I LOVE CHEESE and have tried dozens of cheeses from around the world, but Lebanon has the spiciest cheese I have ever tasted: Shanklish. This aged & dried cheese, made of cow or sheep milk, is covered in thyme & Aleppo pepper, giving it an extremely pungent & peppery flavor.

Shanklish (also spelled shinklish, shankleesh) is best eaten with finely chopped raw vegetables and a good lug of olive oil, a terrific dip to accompany other Mezza Dishes.

Shanklish Dip

Estimated time: 10min
Servings: 6

Ingredients: 300g of Shanklish, 1 small onion, 2 tomatoes, ½ cucumber, ½ cup of Italian/flat parsley (about 1/4 bushel), ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, salt & pepper

It is said that if you don’t have access to Shanklish, you can replace it with Feta cheese, which will give the dip a lighter taste. But in my opinion, nothing can replace Shanklish; it is truly a unique cheese and you can find it at most Middle Eastern supermarkets.